Information on Cookies

To make the best use of our website, you'll need to make sure your web browser is set to accept cookies to ensure you receive the best experience.

For further information, please read our Cookies Policy.

Log In

Go To News
Defra consultation: Government sets out plans to ban the keeping of primates as pets Published Date: 21/06/2023

Next steps to ban the keeping of primates as pets have been set out by the government today (Tuesday 20 June).

Primates are a group of mammals which include marmosets, squirrel monkeys, lemurs and capuchins. The latest estimate from the RSPCA is that between 1,000 and 5,000 primates are currently kept as pets in the UK. These species have complex welfare and social needs which experts believe cannot be met in a domestic environment.

The government proposals - subject to a four-week public consultation - will ensure that all primates in England are kept to zoo-level standards and will in effect ban primates from being kept as pets, delivering on our manifesto pledge. Views are now being sought on a new licensing scheme for privately owned primates in England and new draft standards for privately kept primate care and management.

Currently it is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act to keep a primate while not providing for their welfare needs or to cause them unnecessary suffering, but these plans would tighten the rules further.

Animal welfare minister Lord Benyon said:

This Government remains committed to maintaining and improving its world-leading animal welfare standards – including for primates who have complex welfare and social needs.

Today’s announcement is the start of the process of ensuring these intelligent and curious wild animals are better protected and respected. This will fulfil the Government’s manifesto commitment to ban the keeping of primates as pets.

As part of the flagship Action Plan for Animal Welfare, the government committed to protecting wild animals by making it illegal to keep primates as pets. In 2020, it consulted on how the new licensing scheme will work in practice and confirmed it would ban the keeping of primates other than by persons holding a relevant licence.

The consultation launched today will run for four weeks until Tuesday 18 July. Once confirmed, the new measures will be implemented under the powers of the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

Since 2010, the government has taken significant action on animal welfare including increased maximum sentences for animal cruelty, banning third party puppy and kitten sales and improving conditions for animals on farms.

The consultation can be viewed HERE.

The consultation sets out details of changes to proposals in order to allow them to be delivered by secondary legislation.

We have not yet consulted on what the new primate keeping standards themselves should require, for example in terms of primate housing requirements.  The new consultation covers our proposed primate keeping standards in depth.


IoL Response

The IoL has responded to this consultation, aided by our Animal Licensing Consultation Panel.  The response can be viewed here.

If you are interested in working with the IoL on licensing consultations, please get in touch via email to